2 minute read / Aug 10, 2020 / fundraising /startups /

Conflicting Data on the State of the US Early Stage Market

After I wrote a post on the health of the seed market during COVID, AngelList Venture emailed me saying they observed different patterns in their early-stage data and offered to collaborate. This data set is unique because it records transacted deals on the AngelList platform.

The first post highlighted a 40% reduction in seed investment in Q2 2020 and 42% increase in Series A investment, quarter over quarter. AngelList data shows different patterns.

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First, across pre-seed, seed, and Series A, round volumes are flat-to-up quarter over quarter.

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Second, round sizes are down about 20-30% from highs in the pre-seed and seed market. Series As’s ascent continues unperturbed.

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Last, the AngelList team provided data on pre-money valuations, which is rare data! We see pre-seeds have fallen from mid-2018 highs of $10m to about $5m. Seeds persist at $10m pre-money. And Series As oscillate around $30M over the last two years.

This data set suggests the seed market is healthy and exhibits resiliency in contrast to the Crunchbase data set. I reviewed my previous analysis, searching for geographic and other demographic differences to explain some of the data sets’ variances. But I couldn’t find a variable that would explain the difference. I also reviewed other data sets including the NVCA’s Venture Monitor, which suggested Series A deal pace is down about 30%, a third perspective.

Here are some ideas:

I’m reminded of the five blind men and the elephant. Some data sources show the trunk, others the belly, and others the tail. In a few quarters, we’ll understand the true nature of market perturbations triggered by COVID. But today, we’re still sketching out the nature of the beast.


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